The Web Developer’s Blues

Why Missing Content Can Halt a Project –

Over the summer, I attended a WordPress Developers Meet-Up in Boulder, Colorado. The topic of discussion was How to Meet Your Clients’ Expectations. There were probably 20-25 WP developers in attendance. As the meeting began, I decided to sit back and listen to the discussion. Time and again, these developers expressed their concern with failing to meet their clients’ expectations. The group conclusion hinged on the fact that the clients didn’t produce content in a timely manner, thus halting the website progress. Many developers would move on to other projects, leaving the stalled website project in limbo. Eventually, the client would send the developer the delayed content, only to find that the developer was entrenched in another project. The outcome: an unhappy client and a stressed-out developer.

During this interesting roundtable discussion, the developers offered solutions to this problem. I would like to share some of the tips I learned during their discourse.

Clearly communicate the steps of website development (aka Website Development 101 for the client).

Many clients do not understand the steps required to design + build a website. The developer should consider providing a quick overview of the project requirements, highlighting the responsibility of the client to provide content, images, etc. in a timely manner. This doesn’t need to be a technical guideline; the client just needs to understand the overall process and how they play a large part in the completion of the project.

Create a contract provision stating that if the content deadline is not met by the client, the developer reserves the right to amend the completion deadline.

Several developers have a contract provision for content receipt from the client; a verbal mention of this provision at the signing of the contract is beneficial. Be aware, by adding this content deadline requirement for the client, the developer will then need adhere to the final project deadline. This stipulation provides developers the flexibility to accept work on other projects if a current project is stalled by the client. Sending a reminder of the content deadline a week in advance is great customer service. If a new deadline is created due to missing content, the developer should notify the client of the amended date. Remember to use professional yet kind communication – this client may become a future testimonial, referral or recommendation resource.

Building begins when all content is received.

One developer stated she will only begin to build once she has received all content – verbiage, photos, logos, social media links, etc. This seems to be a logical approach and this solves the problem of stalled projects. The only drawback is that the website development competition may offer less upfront restrictions and some clients may consider this to be a harsh, uncompromising attitude. Personally, I believe this is an approach that requires personal trial-and-error testing by a developer. It truly does solve the issues of missing content and projects stuck in limbo. Utilizing the correct language to communicate this requirement in a contract is a must – it should appear professional but not severe.

In conclusion, the shameless plug of a web content writer.

If you find that your client is struggling to collect and submit content, please consider recommending a professional web content writer. We are trained to search for keywords to help with optimization. Google and other search engines are leaning more toward content-driven methods within their algorithms to assist with PageRank.

I shamelessly plugged my services only a few times during this developers’ meeting; the proverbial light bulb did light up for several attendees. In a roundabout way, professional writers can assist web developers with deadlines by assisting their clients with content-related deadlines. It really is a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Laura L. Roberts